ARC/Book Review: Heartless – Marissa Meyer


Title: Heartless (2016)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 464 pages
Release Date: November 8, 2016
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king’s marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.


Heartless is my first Marissa Meyer book, and boy, was I excited to get to it! I originally wanted to read The Lunar Chronicles first but decided against it because of its representation problems, but this book, being loosely related to Alice in Wonderland, takes the cake for me. 😍

Heartless takes us back to the life of the Queen of Hearts before she was the Queen of Hearts and is just an ordinary girl named Catherine. Cath is a talented baker and has dreams of opening her own bakery, except that her standing in society — and the King of Hearts’ interest in her as his bride — results in a lot of rules and regulations that forbid her from doing what she wants.

“A heart, once stolen, can never be taken back.”

I’ll be honest: I personally don’t particularly care for Alice in Wonderland, but I am familiar with it, and this book gets that Alice in Wonderland feel just right. Reading it was like reading a dark fairytale: it was whimsical and dreamlike, there were wishes that need to be paid, the characters were good or evil. The world-building felt thin, but fairytales often are, and it was good enough that it kept me going.

I loved Catherine as a heroine, but I can’t deny that I got frustrated with her at times. In a way, I suppose she was realistic — she was quite likable and easy to root for, but she was also flawed, and I did enjoy that she had ambitions to live a different life than what she was prescribed to. I thought that part of her personality was very relatable, especially given that her challenges — disapproving parents, societal expectations — are challenges many people face in real life.

“But hoping,” he said, “is how the impossible can be possible after all.”

Jest, on the other hand, felt quite one-dimensional for me. He had his own goals and motivations, but he never felt fully fleshed-out. His relationship with Cath felt like an insta-love relationship to me, since they fell in love first in a dream. Since that happens very often in fairytales and Heartless is kind of one, though, I could get behind this couple enough to enjoy the story.

Other than that, Meyer’s writing was relatively easy to get into. The plot was evenly paced with not a boring moment in between, and the descriptions of all the baked goods Cath makes only serve to make my reading experience more enjoyable. While I didn’t find the book particularly addictive, I found my reading momentum pretty much as soon as I started the book, and overall it was a good read.

* I received an ARC of HEARTLESS from Pan Macmillan. Quotes included in this review may be subject to change.

REAL RATING: 3.5 stars.

Heartless Blog Tour

Interested in getting Heartless? 💗

Pan Macmillan | Booktopia | Book Depository

45 thoughts on “ARC/Book Review: Heartless – Marissa Meyer

  1. Lovely review! I wanted to read this book, but I’ve started to become a bit hesitant about it because I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. But you’re making me change my mind!! Maybe I’ll read it after all!


  2. Wahh great review! This book is growing bigger by the second. Everyone wants to read it. I can’t blame them though, it sounds pretty cool. I’m curious about that issue you have with the Lunar Chronicles series; I haven’t really heard that one before. What exactly did Meyer do in those books to keep you away from them? :O

    – Lashaan


    • It’s definitely a huge release! I know I’ve seen it on people’s most anticipated lists for months beforehand, haha.

      In regards to TLC, I read this review and just decided I wouldn’t bother with it. The tone of the review is a bit harsh (in my opinion) but it has a good point, and while I like to think that Meyer has only the best intentions, there’s just too little time in my life to read books I’m unsure about. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. If I actually had the Heart to read a retelling, this would be my go-to as of right now as well. Because that fucking under-the-jacket cover is a beauty. (But alas, I cannot be simply swayed by the prospects of tens of hundreds of different bookstagram usage of the cover).

    –except now you mentioned baked goods. And I love food. But more specifically anything that’s baked and is super flakey omgaoidsjisajdas.

    Also: that is one fucking long list of blog tour dates holy shit LOL.


    • I actually haven’t seen much of the finished copy but I believe you! Publishers have really picked up their book-as-an-object game in the recent years and it’s astounding how beautiful some books are. Food, though. 🙊

      And I know! I suppose it’s a VERY big release. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I also enjoyed Heartless & couldn’t agree more with regards to the pacing…it wasn’t quite un-putdownable (made up my own word) hehe, BUT once I started it I found it easy to stay with. This was a character heavy book but I would’ve liked to get a more fleshed out Jest…hmm🤔💭your review brought to light some of the things that crossed my mind but kind of pushed back if that makes any sense. I loved this re-telling though, enjoyed your review 😊💕


    • Thanks! Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel about the book as well – it was good, but not great, and I never felt fully engaged. Like it entertained me but I don’t think I would remember it that much over time. And I’m glad to hear that! 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve read Cinder and Scarlet and honestly, they just feel okay to me. I’m excited for this one though, I’ve read Alice in Wonderland and I always loved the retellings about it. Wonderland is such a wild place, so there are various ways authors can play with it 😀 I can’t wait to see how Meyer’s Wonderland looks like! I also like that you mentioned that Catherine is flawed. It really makes her more relateable and easy to root for to me 😀 Great review Reg!


    • Good to know that I’m not missing out on *too* much with TLC! I’m not particularly in love with Wonderland so I wasn’t too picky, but I hope you enjoy this book anyway. And Cath is definitely flawed – I mean, she does turn into the Queen of Hearts later on. 😉


  6. I love this honest review! I am seeing so much praise surrounding this book that I am starting to fear disappointment if that makes sense? Alice in Wonderland is one of my very favorite classics, so I am sure I will enjoy this. Although, it is definitely not the first story based upon the Queen of Hearts origins. I am still very excited though 🙂 I have a copy here I cannot wait to crack open ❤


    • Thank you so much! Yeah, that makes sense – that’s how I feel about books that are very, VERY hyped. I just think: “There’s no way a book can be THAT perfect”, and usually get disappointed afterwards. I hope Heartless doesn’t disappoint you, though. 😉

      This is actually my first Queen of Hearts origin story! Do you have a favourite/recommendation?

      Liked by 1 person

      • The only other that I have read recently is Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes. I have a review up if you are looking for thoughts. It was a fun read, and I am guessing not as complex. Sometimes I welcome a lighter read. But I also feel there will be much more happening later.

        As far as Wonderland retellings, may favorite is actually a manga: Alice in the Country of Hearts. It is a pretty long series that branches out a bit, but I am hooked.


  7. I’M SOOO EXCITED TO READ HEARTLESS. i’ve been reading nothing but good reviews about it. i need to get my hands on it first though.
    amazing review, as usual! ❤️


  8. Great review for this book Reg! I have an ARC of Heartless but for some reason still haven’t gotten around to it myself yet (it’s not released in the UK in the version I have until February so I still have some time left).
    I’m glad to see you enjoyed this book as well, in spite of the almost insta-love in it. I’ve seen some mixed reviews but Heartless has been one I’ve been eagerly anticipating since its announcement because I am both a massive Marissa Meyer and Alice in Wonderland fan. 😀


  9. Great review! Really glad to hear some positive things because all the reviews I’ve seen are pretty crappy. Good thing, too, cause I want to read more retellings but the Lunar Chronicles is so long and I’m just not that interested honestly.


    • Thanks so much! That’s actually surprising to me – it feels like all I’ve seen are really positive reviews, and mine leans to a more average-ish read. 😂 I hope you enjoy this book if/when you get to it – it’s not mind-blowing, but it’s a quick enough, light enough standalone that it’s entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the book! I recently just bought the novel so I am really excited to read it! Normally, I’m not into anything other than YA contemporary, but I am tying to expand my horizons! 🙂 Hopefully this book won’t let me down!


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